Category Archives: personal

The One In Which I Feel Like A Miserable Walrus Because Science

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I bet if I sat you down you could recite me a list of milk slogans and benefits that have been drilled into our collective heads ad nauseum for the past few decades. It’s a big source of calcium, It makes you grow!, Your bones need it, It has protein, Got Milk? Milk, it does a body good.

Or, does it?

But, sometimes, the benefits of a particular food ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. The food industry relies heavily on marketing just like any other business.

The difficult, and sometimes even dangerous part is when we allow for these marketing strategies, this loud information, to override what our own bodies are trying to say. 

See, healthy food is healthy… as long as it isn’t harmful. Doh.

Kind of obvious, right? But you’d be surprised at how many people blur the lines and ignore serious signs of potential problems simply because they continue to be convinced they should be eating x or y since they’re “healthy.”

Whole grains are healthy, as long as you don’t have Celiac disease or an intolerance.

Milk is (debatably) healthy, as long as you don’t have a lactose allergy or intolerance.

Heck, even vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and everything under the sun can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on whether your body loves it or hates it.

See where I’m getting at?

Enter: Me.

I grew up with the same information as you, and thus I grew up drinking many-a glass of milk. Everything was fine.

And then I became an adult. And at some point over the past five years I began noticing that milk doesn’t settle in my stomach very smoothly anymore. Sometimes it gives me a stomach ache. It causes me inflammation and bloating.

I drank milk yesterday to show you exactly what happens to my body (see what I do for you). The first picture is what my abdomen typically looks like after a normal exhalation. Then I drank one glass of milk. And about 20 minutes after, that’s what my stomach looked like after a normal exhalation. See the crazy bloating? It was painful, too, like heartburn. It becomes hard to stand up straight or move freely thanks to some sharp cramps, and all I want to do is lie down in a bundle until the pain is gone. Not pretty.

 

milkafter

 

 

Even though I never had issues with milk when I was a kid (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention?), as an adult willing to experiment I did begin noticing patterns: I discovered straight up milk gives me discomfort. Milk chocolate bars do, too. But somehow cheese, butter and yogurt don’t seem very problematic to my body.

Why the changes? I have no clue. They may be linked to the fact that as we grow we produce less of the enzyme that helps us break down milk, which in turn causes people who could tolerate milk just fine to begin having issues with it later in life.

But the reason doesn’t matter as much as the straight facts: Milk doesn’t benefit my body now. And I know this because my body yells it out loud and clear.

Should I continue drinking milk because calcium! bones! osteoporosis!  Hell no.

I get all my calcium from spinach, kale, beans, almonds, almond butter, salmon, and sardines. None of these foods make me feel like a beached whale in agony. That’s how I know they’re a superior option for me.

 

So now the question becomes… Are you ignoring any clear signals from your body?

There is a reason why our bodies react the way they do, after all.

We’re only wise to tune in and truly listen.

 

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I’m Back and I Bear Gifts Of Triathlon Inspiration

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I haven’t been on the ball lately, but I swear I have a really good reason.

Yes, a cuddly reason…

A sweet and snugly reason that has flipped my world upside down.

Her name is Era and she was born on September 16th. For the longest time my mind had no room for anything other than cooing and loving this little bundle of cuteness, but I’m finally catching up on my sleep and getting the hang of having a tiny baby all over again, after over a decade of last having an infant around. Thanks for sticking around while I figured this out!

And now back to business. Of the non-cuddly but very inspirational kind.

Let’s meet bad girl Harriet Anderson:

This lady was 74 years old when she competed in the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championship. SEVENTY-FOUR cheesuschrist. And you see her arm up with the red tie? That’s because missus there broke her clavicle falling off on the bike portion of the race, and still managed to finish the race on time. This means she completed the remaining 32 miles on bike and an entire goddamn marathon with a broken collarbone. Are you feeling like a total wuss yet? I sure am.

She began competing in her fifties and has been relentless since. She’s badass and I want to be like her when I grow up. I’m not even kidding.

Now click over here and read her full story, you won’t be sorry. Hard core chicks, yeah!

Exercise During Pregnancy? Don’t Mind If I Do

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“Oh, look at that pregnant woman waddle! I bet she walks funny out of muscle soreness from performing series of lunges, squats and deadlifts.” Said NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true, few people would believe this pregnant mom’s waddle walk is at times consequence of physical exercise. BUT IT IS. Sometimes. Other times I’m just being a normal preggo.

So let’s talk about activity during pregnancy. Or its alternative title: I’m pregnant, not dying. Yes I’m allowed to move.

Indistinct to, oh, every expectant woman in the history of the modern western world, I have been on the receiving end of advice suggesting that I should “take it easy” and “rest while it’s still possible” before the baby comes. I’ve yet to understand the logic behind this.

Of course there are situations in which a medical condition makes it difficult or even risky for mum to be active, and I’m not here to argue with that. What’s more, there are moms that consciously choose to not do anything during their baby’s gestation and I find that totally understandable (hey, it is a choice.) But what about the standard, normal pregnancy in which both mom and bub could benefit from activity, and there are no legitimate reasons (medical or otherwise) for passiveness?

I’m a true believer of being in tune with one’s body and following its cues– and if you ask me, everyone should be practicing this, not just pregnant women– but I’ve yet to understand why we feel so compelled to warn mom against doing “too much”. How much is that, exactly?

Childbirth is not only one of the most important athletic events in a woman’s life, it is also one of endurance. It’s like the Olympics but of life, and instead of a golden medal you get a chubby baby to snarfle on at the end of your race. You bet your ass I’m training.

Speaking of Olympics, what about Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who competed in London at almost eight months pregnant?

My personal logic says that if all is well and in order, and the mom is already used to a certain rhythm of exercise, it isn’t necessary to stop. Some modifications may be suitable, some days may feel not as great… but as long as mom is paying attention to what her body says, no harm is done. Most of all, exercise your common sense.

Here is what I do.

For cardio: Zumba

I’m pleased that I’ve been able to keep up with teaching two hours of Zumba per week feeling great. I was already used to this kind of exercise and have been able to maintain the pace throughout my pregnancy (I’m on week 34 and still going). Not only do my lungs and heart get a workout, it’s dance: it makes me feel happy, energized, alive. I credit this for keeping me in such a great mood and believing I can accomplish my goals. Find your thing, whatever makes you smile, and stick with it for as long as it feels right.

Now, in my Zumba class there’s a lot of hip movement, a lot of booty shaking, and a lot of whining down. Add all this to the weight of a growing baby on the bladder and things can get awkward. Straight up I can tell you nothing terrible has happened and there have been no accidents, but it does feel kind of funny/weird at times. How do I deal? I got me one of these prenatal support bands.  It sure has helped alleviate some of the pressure thus making me feel more comfortable while I dance, but don’t think you have to shell out the $15 plus shipping for results– it’s nothing more than a wide strip of elastic with hooks. That’s it. Make it yourself and even better because you’ll set the hooks to close exactly where you want them to.

For flexibility: Yoga

During pregnancy there is a release of relaxin, a hormone our wise body produces to make our joints stretchy and limber in preparation for birth. Relaxin is the reason we need to be careful not to over stretch. It’s a matter of paying attention to how our body is feeling, and remembering that this isn’t the best moment to attempt twisting into a pretzel for the first time.

As much as I would love to go to a prenatal yoga class, truth is the budget doesn’t allow for that right now. The good news is, there’s still a way to get our yoga in. Video, baby! I follow Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga video in the comfort of my living room and frumpiness of my pj’s. I find this video very easy to follow, even for a beginner, as it clearly explains modifications for women in second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

*Many thanks to Angelina, Amy and Christine, all whom in one way or another made it possible I have this video now. Teehee!

For muscle strength: Strength training

Squats and I are like BFFs now. Word. Hey, I figure I’ll be doing my share of squatting at the moment of birthing my baby, so might as well get all the practice I can get.

For obvious reasons I can’t do situps, but I keep my core in check with planks.

For upper body strength I mostly go for dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Bicep curls, triceps kicks, shoulder press, chest press (with plenty of breaks and attention to how I feel– lying on our back isn’t the most recommended thing during the third trimester), upward rows… the possibilities are endless.

For mental sanity, entertainment, and fun: Random things

Hiking

Fun in nature, fresh air, a workout. Extra points for dragging your friends along.

Swimming

Being so light and buoyant in the water feels ridiculously wonderful.

Rock climbing

Fun challenge trying to keep the body close to the rock wall with a 7.5 month pregnant belly. Totally doable, quite enjoyable.

Canoeing

My shoulders, back, and core really felt the workout with the paddling. Very relaxing once I got over the fear of flipping over.

And when all else fails… walk.
Walk to the post office, to the store, to the library, around your block. You don’t have to act like an elite athlete every single day of your pregnancy, and chances are you will have many days, like I do, in which there isn’t a hint of desire to move. That’s ok, those days have their place, too. When I feel ready to get going again walking helps me start slow and get back on track.

I really want to be clear and say it is not my intention in the least to make other moms feel bad if it hasn’t been possible or desirable for them to stay active while pregnant. Nor do I wish to set a bar for others to compare themselves and decide if they’ve been a better or worse expectant mom than I. This is just my personal experience, so different from my first pregnancy, and we’re each on our individual path to follow with our own lessons to be learned.

I have received many benefits from staying active. Forget about the physical benefits… the mental ones, holy cow! I don’t know how I would be feeling right now if I hadn’t stayed as mobile. It’s as if keeping myself reasonably challenged has lit a spark inside– I feel happy, accomplished, relaxed and peaceful. This process has reminded me to trust my body because it is capable of achieving many wonderful things. I’m very grateful.

For more information on exercise and pregnancy, read Precision Nutrition’s article on How To Exercise During Pregnancy.

Free! Real Food Summit, And The Answer To Your Question

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There is a free, online Real Food Summit coming up and I don’t know about you but I’m taking advantage of it. They have some fantastic speakers lined up, including Paul Check, founder of the C.H.E.C.K. Institute, Joel Salatin, holistic farmer and author of Folks, This Ain’t Right, and Zoe Harcombe, author of The Obesity Epidemic.

All you need to enter is your email address, and this gives you full access to several days jam-packed with information from very interesting sources.

It begins on July 8th, and as I understand it each day we’ll be sent an email with the class or conference of the day. I’m pumped! Sign up here: realfoodsummit.com

 

And I’m sure your days have dragged on wondering, why isn’t she posting as often? because of course the top priority of your life reading my blog, I KNOW. Here is the answer to your question:

 

 

That’s my kitchen right there. See, in this house when we want to do home renovation we don’t hire people to do it because we’re poor, no, we go for it and do it ourselves. And don’t think for a second that we even know what we’re doing, ha! No, it’s all learn-as-you-go because what’s the fun in doing things right the first or second or third time, RIGHT?!

Don’t even ask how wanting new floor in our bedroom led up to having gaping holes in the kitchen ceiling because I’m still scratching my head over that one.

Did I mention it’s my birthday this weekend and we’re having friends over? Good thing they all know us well enough to know they can’t expect fancy soirees at this house.

 

Send help. Please.